Background To Business in Canada

Canada is the second largest country in the world (after Russia) but almost 90% of the population live within 200km of the border with the US.

This means that vast tracts of Canada are uninhabited wilderness and that, if you are doing business in Canada, you are never likely to be too far geographically from the States.

This close proximity is defining for Canadian business as the largest trade relationship of any two countries in the world is the one between the US and Canada. Canadians are keen to stress that they are not American – but they cannot survive without this bi-lateral trade. So you need to bear in mind that although close to the USA geographically, there are definitely differences in general approach to business between the USA and Canada and Canadians are sometimes known to take exception to any assumptions being made on this matter.

Canada is a large, vibrant economy with a population of over thirty million people. It has a number of global companies and an extremely successful export industry. Canada deserves consideration in its own right, rather than as merely a neighbour of the States.

The Canadian economy has survived the post 2008 recession in relatively good health and is very successful in areas such as telecommunications, mining and insurance.

A brief overview of some key concepts to consider when doing business in Canada

Written and Produced by Keith Warburton

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There are innumerable reasons why you should probably be doing business in Canada and they are not all related to the fact that it borders the world’s largest economy – although in itself this is quite a compelling argument.

Canada boasts an enviable combination of strong basic macro-economic fundamentals, an abundance of key natural resources, top-quality human resources and an extremely pro-business climate – all of which make the country a ‘must-explore’ market. In addition, Canada has developed one of the world’s great transportation networks and attracts some of the globe’s top talent to live and work there.

So, if you aren’t already doing business in Canada, you should probably be asking yourself ‘why not?’

However, like all countries Canada has a unique business culture and you are well advised to do some research on this before starting to develop any business ideas. One thing you really need to be clear about is that Canada is not the USA. Just because you have worked successfully with Canada’s southern neighbour does not mean you understand how business is done in Canada. Geographic and linguistic proximity rarely equate to cultural similarity and this is definitely the case with regard to the USA and Canada.

Even such basic things as approach to communication differ considerably between the USA and Canada as do approaches to meetings and decision-making. Canada is basically an egalitarian society and a pushy, abrasive attitude tends to go down quite badly with people who are taught never to speak positively about themselves.

Canada is also proudly multi-cultural – people are not thrown into a melting pot and expected to leave their cultural identity behind. Diversity is encouraged and you need to recognise that Canada is not a homogenous entity. Do some research in advance because the rewards of doing business in Canada can be significant.

This country profile provides an overview of some of the key aspects of Canadian business culture in a concise, easy to follow-format. The document includes information on:

  • Background to business
  • Business Structures
  • Management style
  • Meetings
  • Teamwork
  • Communication
  • Women in business
  • Entertaining
  • Top tips